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  #1  
Old 05-16-2018, 07:17 AM
joeguam joeguam is offline
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Default Cut intricate pickguard design?

Whatís the best way to cut an intricate pickguard design? I tried using a scissors but it didnít come out clean due to the many directional changes of the design.

Iím using tortoise from LMI, and this is PVC so it canít be lasered. Is CNC the only option?
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Old 05-16-2018, 07:19 AM
mirwa mirwa is offline
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What thickness is the material
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Old 05-16-2018, 07:22 AM
joeguam joeguam is offline
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The normal acoustic pickguard tortoise sheet from LMI - not sure of the thickness though. Same as what comes on the Taylor guitar.
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Old 05-16-2018, 07:27 AM
mirwa mirwa is offline
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Never bought tortoise sheet from lmii, so that’s an unknown, if it’s similiar in thickness to a taylor pickguard then guessing about .65 of a mm.

A few ways you can do it.

- Make a wood pickguard (Mdf) and attach to it, then shape sand with a bobbin sander.
- use a razor and trace a Mdf shape again, three to four passes will cut through.
- use scissors but cut in straight lines, this way you keep reducing the waste area until the shape is almost left and then with small pressure cut it out.
- I’ve cut many pvc pickguards on a laser, works fine, just don’t breathe the gas, it’s not good for you.
- small Cnc router works fine too

Steve
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Old 05-16-2018, 07:30 AM
joeguam joeguam is offline
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It seems like the laser would be the easiest, cleanest and most accurate way - Iím just worried about those PVC fumes, they said itís deadly and also bad for the laser?
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Old 05-16-2018, 07:36 AM
mirwa mirwa is offline
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Most laser machines are fitted with an extraction fan, just make sure it’s vented outside the area your working, much to my dismay I can say i have breathed plenty of pvc laser fumes, I know they are bad, but it happens. My machine vents to the roof

Do a test cut on any new material, I typically cut a small circle in the corner, then I can see if it melts or warps

After cutting get a clean dry cloth and wipe the laser nozzle, when you cut lots of jobs it builds a film up on the nozzle

Steve
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Old 05-16-2018, 02:45 PM
joeguam joeguam is offline
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Thanks Steve - Iím gaining a little more confidence in giving the laser a shot.
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Old 05-16-2018, 09:42 PM
tadol tadol is offline
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Cant you just use a basic jewelers (fret) saw, or even a coping saw with a fine blade?
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Old 05-16-2018, 10:22 PM
Frank Ford Frank Ford is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tadol View Post
Cant you just use a basic jewelers (fret) saw, or even a coping saw with a fine blade?
Of course you can! Fancy inlaid celluloid pickguards were done for generations before CNC. For seriously intricate ones, I rough cut them with scissors and use fine gouges, chisels and knives to clean up the details. Takes far less time and effort than you might imagine. Just go for it. . .
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Old 05-17-2018, 08:34 AM
arie arie is offline
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it would help to know what your idea of intricate is?
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Old 05-17-2018, 09:38 AM
Alan Carruth Alan Carruth is offline
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I've used a plexi pattern, which can be made by any means you like, to guide a really sharp knife. Double tape the pattern to the material for the guard. If you bevel the edge of the pattern it's easy to incline the knife and cut the edge of the guard with a bevel. A lot depends on the thickness of the material you're using, of course; it's best if you can make the cut in one pass, but that might be hard to do with heavy stock.
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Old 05-19-2018, 01:54 AM
joeguam joeguam is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arie View Post
it would help to know what your idea of intricate is?


This is the pickguard design on my ukulele - the longest two points across it measures 5-inches. I'm from the island of Guam (USA) and this is the shape of our island with some subtle customizations. This material is the PVC pickguard from LMI and was cut with a laser that had a significant amount of extraction vented outdoors. However, after this cut, the laser filters and mirrors had quite a bit of film and grime.

I have a cheaper K40 laser which I could give it a shot, however, I'm a little worried about the toxic fumes as well as the health of the laser.
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  #13  
Old 05-19-2018, 02:43 AM
mirwa mirwa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeguam View Post
I could give it a shot, however, I'm a little worried about the toxic fumes as well as the health of the laser.
This is my laser, standard co2 unit, now almost 6 yrs old and on the third tube (replace every 2 yrs) still on original nozzle / mirrors and lens, cut pvc monthly.

Steve

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  #14  
Old 05-20-2018, 01:22 PM
Peegoo Peegoo is offline
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A scroll saw is ideal for one-off scratch plates. I use mine all the time for cutting thin materials like this.

Finish the edge with smooth files and sandpaper on sticks and dowels.
It's very fast and you get pro results.
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Old 05-20-2018, 03:58 PM
tadol tadol is offline
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While a laser unit is cool (just back from the Makers Faire and saw lots of very intriguing CNC lasers, mills, routers, and even a small shop water jet and a CNC clay extruder for pottery!) I would still say that if that is your primary use, you could tape a half dozen sheets together with a pattern, and cut them all at once on a decent scrollsaw. Alternately, I'd talk to a shop that has a laser, and get a price to have them cut a dozen for you. Undoubtedly far less expensive - but maybe you have lots of other uses that only a laser can do -

In fact - that may be my biggest complaint about the makers fair - every single thing they offered was controlled by a computer, relegating the human to loading and unloading material - seems to be alot different than I'd want from a artistic perspective -
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